What does the new ‘rule of six’ mean for play streets?

From Monday 14 September, it will be illegal in England, apart from at school or work or under other few exceptions, for someone to meet more than five other people at a time.

The government is due to publish more detail on what those exceptions are over the coming days, and London Play will examine this closely before updating our guidance on what the new laws mean for play streets.

However, as far as we are aware, there is no plan at present to close public playgrounds. Given that in legal terms, play streets are simply temporary playgrounds, London Play’s view is that under the new rules play streets should still be able to proceed, with a few minor adjustments.  Children need to play – now more than ever – and a play street is one of the safer options for them to exercise their right to do so.

As always, it is ultimately up to residents and organisers to decide whether they feel comfortable to proceed with their play street plans; and also bear in mind that the situation is liable to change at short notice. For those that decide to go ahead, we would advise as follows:

• As per our previous guidance, the emphasis should be on creating traffic free streets for play; and not on community gathering.  The sharing of food and drink is discouraged.

• Organisers should ensure that all those participating are aware of the ‘rule of six’ and the potential for fines to be handed to those who do not comply;

• Organisers should also make clear that, as usual, adults on a play street are responsible for themselves and their children.  Therefore they are also responsible for ensuring that they and their children do not gather in groups of more than six while the play street is in session.

To help organisers make clear where the responsibility for complying with government legislation lies, London Play has a produced an adaptable A4 poster which can be laminated and affixed to lamp posts during the play street session or posted through residents’ letterboxes in advance. Download it here.

Play streets taking place over the weekend 12/13 September can proceed under the existing guidelines. We will update our play street guidance once the detail of the new legislation has been published.

The Cabinet Office statement on the new rule of six is here.

London Play’s guidance for post lockdown play streets is here.

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